Hamm sentenced to probation

Olympic champion gymnast Paul Hamm pleaded no contest on a reduced set of charges and was sentenced to probation Thursday in Ohio, where he was accused of kicking a cab driver while drunk, damaging a taxi window and not paying a $23 fare.

The 29-year-old Hamm entered the pleas on two misdemeanor charges in an Upper Arlington court in suburban Columbus. Those charges were related to criminal damaging and a failure to pay. A misdemeanor assault charge was dismissed.

Hamm, the only American man to win the Olympic and world all-around titles, said he’s relieved that the case is finished.

“I regret having put myself in this position, but now it is time to turn the page and look forward to moving on with my personal and professional objectives,” he said in a statement released by his attorney, Bill Meeks. “I will continue to train and focus my efforts on returning to competition and competing for a position on the 2012 Olympic team.”

A magistrate suspended a sentence of 90 days in custody on each count, provided that Hamm completes a year of probation. He also had to pay the cab fare, plus nearly $500 in court fees, and must sit with a counselor for an alcohol assessment.

“I think it was a favorable resolution for all concerned,” said city attorney Jeannie Hummer, who noted that Hamm was considered a first-time offender.

Hamm, who now lives in Wisconsin, had been working as a coach at Ohio State when he was arrested in June but was later fired.

The 2004 gold medal winner broke his hand during nationals a few months before the Beijing games, derailing his Olympic dreams in 2008. He had committed to a comeback for London but was sidelined when he tore his right labrum and rotator cuff early last year.

He’s still dealing with those injuries and failed to make the finals in the Winter Cup Challenge earlier this month in his return to competitive gymnastics.